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Do you feed first crop or second crop hay?

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  • Do you feed first crop or second crop hay?

    In general. My hay guys always tell me horses "don't need second-crop." Okay... so who's feeding it, then?

    I feed first crop and most of my horses have done fine on it, but I have one hard keeper TB who I think would benefit from the second crop. One year I did buy some second crop to mix in, and they would absolutely vacuum it up like it was candy. I can see how that would not be a good thing on those long, cold winter nights when you want them to be kind of munching all night.

    Just wondering what most people feed.

  • #2
    I feed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and also 4th when it is available. It depends on the farmer I get it from, the type of grass, the weather conditions, the maturity of the hay, etc. etc. etc.......

    I have seen 1st crop hay that got WAY too mature and stalky and I wouldn't feed it to a goat, much less a horse. But if it's an early cutting thanks to good weather and cutting/drying conditions, then I have no problem buying and feeding it. Usually 1st crop mixed pasture type grasses is much softer and more palatable than 1st crop alfalfa. This year I did start buying more 1st crop because the vet said to feed more of the stalkier stuff to my ulcer horse. She thinks the softer, finer grasses of the later cuttings was not providing her enough fiber??? Hmm.

    Besides, I like to mix it up a little anyway so they aren't eating the same exact thing every day year round.


    • #3
      Depending on your hay person and how they care for their fields, there also tends to be more weeds in the first cutting than subsequent ones. A lot of hay guys I've used over the years like to do round bales for cows on the first cutting, to "catch" all the weeds and undesirable stuff before they have a chance to get the weeds under control. Just something to keep in mind, and maybe ask your provider about...


      • #4
        Generally first cutting grass for the horses....if the cutting comes in clean and not overly mature.

        For the cattle in addition to some grass we prefer 3rd cutting alfalfa which my hubby refers to as one day bales cuz they inhale a big round in one day. If I gave this hay to the horses...well wide loads would not even begin to describe.


        • #5
          If we have any option, we don't feed 1st crop. This year, we get whatever we an get....


          • #6
            We don't use 1st cutting-too rough and stalky. And sometimes weedy.
            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


            • #7
              I like 2nd cutting the best but that being said I have my horse on 1st cutting. The 2nd cutting I got from my hay guy was soooo nice..my mare LOVED it. She loved it just too much as it was gone in no time flat even in a small holed hay net. The 2nd cutting was a $1 or $1.50 per bale more and the person I got it from had it in smaller bales. I was going through hay bales like crazy.

              So I went back to feeding a nice clean 1st cutting hay. While not so soft it's still a good looking hay (little more stalky) and she eats it fine and it takes longer for her to go through it with the slow hay net feeder. Both 1st cutting and 2nd cutting that I feed are mostly orchard with some timothy.

              Oh and the horses will choose the 1st cutting hay over eating grass...maybe because they are too lazy to work for their food. lol


              • #8
                Mostly first, (sometimes there *isn't*a second cut) but if they have a big second cut I may get some.

                They do fine on the first, they do fine with a mix of both. I feed hay free choice, they are mildly-hard keeping TBs, (lol) not airferns but not difficult to keep weight on either.


                • #9
                  It depends on the weather. I buy first if it is a great cutting, second if not. This year I bought a year's supply of first -- it was so good I filled the loft. Last year I bought 70 bales of first, cut a little late due to rain, not the hay guy's fault, and a loft full of second cutting.

                  When my hay guy cuts his first, I drive up and pay for five or so bales off the wagon, then take them home and see what the boys think. Then I call him back and tell him my order split between first and second cutting.

                  My first cutting is never weedy. Stalky if cut late and those years I buy second. Mine this year is lovely. Not as soft as second cutting but beautiful hay, the horses love it. A good-quality first cutting is not second-class hay by any means.

                  A hay guy that uses first cutting as weed control is not a very high-quality hay guy.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                    A hay guy that uses first cutting as weed control is not a very high-quality hay guy.
                    I was thinking the same thing. My first crop rarely has weeds, and if it does I'm P.O.'d.

                    The first crop I have in the barn now does look good, and the horses are happy to eat it. Not too stemmy or mature. They will choose grass over the hay, though, given the choice.

                    Maybe I will buy a load of second crop and start feeding a few flakes of that to my TB. He came in really skinny at the end of August, and hasn't put on nearly as much weight as I'd like, despite grass pastures, beet pulp, Empower, TC Senior, teeth being done, deworming, and a dose of probiotics. This guy is a seriously hard keeper.


                    • #11
                      Both, in about a 7:3 ratio. Keeps the nutrient levels balanced--all 1st cutting would be a little spare, and all 2nd (sometimes 3rd) cutting would be too nutrient-dense. I like having both in my barn--if one needs to lose a few pounds they go down to all 1st cutting, and that's the hay with which I'm more liberal in the winter. But if one is off its feed or needing to gain, they get extra later-cutting hay, which all of my horses inform me is VASTLY more tasty.
                      Click here before you buy.


                      • #12
                        ^^ I do the same.

                        I also find 1st cutting tends to, but not always, be a bit higher NSC, so I like to feed it more in the winter when there is no grazing, and feed slightly more 2nd cutting in the spring when grass is coming up. I also get to feed less in the spring, so it works out nicely.
                        Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                        • #13
                          I have second and fourth cutting alfalfa this year. It would've been second and third, but I had a scheduling issue. Both beautiful. I don't know what his first crop looked like, but he cherry-picks all the best for me because he's kinda sweet on me I think it depends on the year, the farmer, and how/when it gets cut, I'm sure there's a lot of really nice first cutting around. My guy just saves the first for his cows.
                          It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


                          • #14
                            I feed first cutting (and only cutting) timothy.

                            I have never heard of anyone calling first cutting being done for weed control.


                            • #15
                              We bale our own alfalfa grass mix. The horses usually get only the first cutting and we give the goats and milk cow the first , second and 3rd (if we are lucky to get a 3rd). The first cutting can be tricky to get up when it is ready ( weather) and yes, it can get a little stalky and have a few more weeds, but who cares? The animals eat every bit of it , so the weeds must not be too bad.
                              Never had a problem keeping weight on the horses even in winter so it can't be too bad.


                              • #16
                                I typically prefer second cutting, but I don't mind first in the summer for the fat ponies.


                                • #17
                                  It all depends on the year. This year's first cutting was (for the most part, around here) stemmy because it was so wet no one could get in and cut it at a reasonable time. Usually first cutting is fine. I can stack a mixture of 1st cutting and 2nd cutting (I'm too obsessed with having all my winter's hay in the barn so I never get to a 3rd cutting) and honestly I usually can't tell the difference after they're stacked. This year I can only because the stemmy ones are from the 1st cut. So basically I don't worry about what cutting the hay is.


                                  • #18
                                    How do you go from 2nd to 1st? My horses won't touch first if they've been on second(sounds like a 3 stooges joke).
                                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
                                      How do you go from 2nd to 1st? My horses won't touch first if they've been on second(sounds like a 3 stooges joke).
                                      Ignore the dirty looks and wait the suckers out. No horse will starve itself voluntarily.
                                      Click here before you buy.


                                      • #20
                                        Funny. My first cut wasnt great so my hay guy took it for his horses, so this year they got second cut, some third, and I now have a few hundred bales of 4th cut that is the nicest hay imagineable!

                                        Well - the 2nd cut was just fine until they got a taste of the 4th cut and now they stare forelornly at the 2nd cut like I am trying to poison them and then sigh and stand in the corner staring at the "poisonous hay" willing it to become 4th cut

                                        ... sigh ...

                                        They are never happy ...

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